October 10, 2011 in Fishsmoker
I looked up. One of the ubiquitous, white fishing charter vans disgorged the fat man. He waddled to the stern of the great vehicle. Plucked his luggage and boxes of fish, placing them on a complimentary baggage cart. His son toddled after him, shrouded in Scent-lock Mossy Oak Breakup fleece. Six more silver-haired, affluent excavator salesman followed this pair of Americana to the ticket counter.
The abundance of my ocean bound tightly in vacuum-sealed plastic and cardboard. I count 15 fish boxes for this group. Times 50 pounds. That’s way too fucking much of my salmon and halibut and snapper. My food source, my livelihood, my pride all wheeled out by fat white men and their ill-behaved boys.
I know. Tourism counts as an industry too. It is just as valuable as commercial fishing. I know. Fishing in Alaska is a dream. I know. Eating what you catch is a primal desire. I know.
But I hate it.
The entitlement of it all. They come up here, pay a bajillion dollars to bob on the ocean in a twin 225-hp powered Alumiweld boat, captained by a 22-year old flippy-haired boy who winters (and falls and springs) in Hawaii. The way they stagger along the sidewalk on a pub crawl. Occupying the bartenders’ time with stories of derring don’t. Did you bait your own hook, motherfucker? Can you plug-cut a herring and clean more than 100 fish a day? Then sit the fuck down and let me order my goddamn beer.
The crass jokes about the wife back home. Gotta buy the old ball-and-chain something sparkly from the store. Otherwise… I don’t know… there may be some sort of consequence to their Cabela’s-coated masculinity. They stare at my filthy boots and wool-covered breasts. Their feral eyes licking my body. I don’t look like the women back home, they tell me. I never ask where home is.
The stories of the big one that got away. Ebbing and flowing between the sameness of all of them. Boasts of how sore their middle management-atrophyed shoulders are from the effort of reeling in a particularly feisty 7 lb Coho salmon. Overestimating the size of halibut. A 40 incher weighs about 40 pounds no matter what they tell you. Having to throw back that big 200 lb halibut because of some “bullshit government regulations.” Never mind that she (halibut over 70 pounds are always female) is older than them. That she is the future of these little manufactured wilderness tours.
Mostly it’s sadness. The exploitation and greed pillaging my beautiful ocean. Sanitized, packaged and shipped for their convenience. And a t-shirt to prove they were here.